Chicago Columnist Down On Lovie’s EvaluationsJanuary 7th, 2014
Can Lovie Smith build a championship roster and raise an offense from the dead?
Those are really the only two things Bucs fans wonder much about these days. Why? Because Lovie’s track record in those areas is questionable.
Lovie is a proven, strong head coach, far better than what Bucs fans have seen since Chucky was fired, but there should be legitimate skepticism amid the euphoria, as Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh pointed out today.
There weren’t many tears shed by Bears fans when Lovie Smith was ousted in 2012. His time was simply up. He was no longer delivering. Nine years is quite a run in the modern NFL. Tony Dungy got six years in Tampa. Jon Gruden got seven. Few coaches retire. Most are fired.
Lovie, per Haugh, didn’t know his limitations.
The Bears missed the playoffs in five of Smith’s final six seasons after a post-Super Bowl power play when Smith began exerting the type of influence the Bucs just granted him. It was February 2007 when Smith, armed with a new contract, proclaimed “trust me” after firing defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. A month later, Smith pushed to acquire safety Adam Archuleta. Later, he endorsed Devin Hester as a No. 1 wide receiver. Lest we forget linebacker Jamar Williams, who supposedly made Lance Briggs expendable.
The good easily outweighed the bad as Smith went 84-66 for the Bears, but thinking his coaching expertise expanded into player personnel marked the beginning of the end. Of all the valuable things Smith learned during his one-year sabbatical watching football in his basement and getting paid $5 million by the McCaskeys, realizing his limits as an NFL head coach wasn’t among them. As he spoke about assembling a staff and adjusting his scheme around cornerback Darrelle Revis, Smith sounded like a guy whose to-do list included finding a general manager to groom. Who wouldn’t want to hire his boss?
Now Joe’s not ruling out Lovie’s ability to learn from his past failings and evolve and conquer.
This morning on WDAE-AM 620, Lovie clarified that his reported control over the Bucs’ 53-man roster is nothing new, he said. That was his scene in Chicago. (So was it Lovie who traded a second-round pick for underachieving Gaines Adams?)
Joe is mostly concerned about Lovie resurrecting the Bucs offense. Lovie never had an offense ranked better than 15th in Chicago.
But don’t misinterpret, Joe’s got a clean slate for all things Lovie. New offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford might be the fresh mind that can do it. Joe’s all-in, but without much expectation on that side of the football, at least not without a new quarterback.